Driving Difficult Passengers in the DMV (DC/Maryland/Virginia)

Not every ride is enjoyable and sometimes passengers are challenging.  I asked several Uber drivers how they deal with difficult passengers.  Below are their responses.

Samuel:  The majority of people are cool.. I’ve had some celebrities in my car even – journalists from NPR and even Wolf Blitzer from CNN. I asked him to tell CNN to stop using the “Breaking News” thing so much. It’s really repetitive. Sometimes I do get passengers who are especially difficult. I took these two guys from Baltimore to Washington DC for a CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) event. They get in the car and they asked me if I was going to vote for Trump. I said that I was not because I think he is racist. Then they told me by the time we arrived in Washington DC they would make me a Trump supporter. So we were going back and forth for the whole ride. They told me minorities were less patriotic and I pointed out 40% of the military consists of minorities – so how can that be the case? Every time they made a point, I made a counter-point. They got frustrated and demanded to see my documentation – I guess because I have a foreign name and am black. But I am an American citizen so I told them I would be happy to but they would have to show me theirs first. They were pretty angry at this point and told me to kiss my tip goodbye. I told them that was fine – they are young and need the money more than I do.

Samir:  Most people are fine. But strange things happen. I once dropped off a very drunk girl at her apartment building and she just sat on the sidewalk. I asked her if she was ok and she said she was fine and wanted to sit outside. I drove away and then I felt guilty so I came back and asked her again if she was ok. I called her friend who had been in the car with her and she also told me that the girl would be fine. I wanted to do something more but wasn’t sure what else I could do as a driver.

As a driver you see a lot of drunk people with impaired judgement. You have to set limits. When in doubt, call one of their friends, call a family member, call the police. You shouldn’t be getting too involved beyond that because it could backfire. People in this are tend to be educated and more aware of politics than many other parts of the country. They want to talk about it the way other people normally talk about weather and sports. I expect that but my job isn’t to win anyone over to my political views, my job is to get them to where they need to go safely. Most of the time when people talk politics they really just want someone to listen. That’s what I mainly do.

Ajan:  People have the most intimate conversations on their cell phones – like I’m not there. I try not to listen to but there is no way I can’t hear everything. People talk about their health conditions, about sexual experiences, and so on. They fire people over the phone.  Even in the Uber Pool with other people in the car! I never knew that women have the same kind of graphic conversations about sex that men do – but now I know.

John:  My only real pet peeve is when people get upset with you when trying to find where they are. To them it is very obvious where they are, but I’ve got to work from a bad photo and GPS that doesn’t always work right to figure out where they are standing. Sometimes they get upset with you for not being able to find them more quickly.  I call them and they can’t even tell me where they are, or worse, they give me the wrong information.  Then they are irritated when they get in the car even though I didn’t do anything wrong.

Edgar:  When I have difficult passengers, I just shut down and give them the silent treatment. When I first started driving, I took an Uber class and that’s what they recommended we do with passengers who are aggressive, argumentative, or really drunk. This is the best thing to do.

John:  I also use the silent treatment. Sometimes people get angry though when you aren’t responsive and then they do something passive-aggressive like leaving the door wide open when they get out of the car or they might give you a low rating.  If you receive enough low ratings then Uber will freeze your account – even when you have done nothing wrong.  Uber always takes the side of the passengers. They can always get new drivers but need the passengers more. Uber also took away the function by which drivers could rate passengers. We only have the option of reporting them for serious offenses but again, Uber will usually take their side.

Photo Credit: Uber